- Our Purpose
- About the RLDS/Community of Christ Church
- Are YOU Questioning?
Who are we?
- What's New Here?
What are we doing here? And why?
Refiner's Fire Ministries is an evangelical Christian ministry to current and former members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) – now known as the Community of Christ (CofC) – and to its more recent Restoration / Restored / Remnant Branch movements. The RLDS/CofC church is the second largest branch of Mormonism.
For 125 years (1860 to 1984) this group was known simply as the RLDS, or Reorganized church. However, a liberal v. fundamental split in the church commenced in 1984 resulting in a variety of splinter organizations with names containing words such as “Remnant,” Restored” or “Restoration.” In addition, the surviving RLDS church changed its own name to “Community of Christ” (CofC) in 2001. This has resulted in much confusion to those outside the movement (and to many within as well!). All the material provided by our ministry is applicable to each of these groups. And as such, we have retained the traditional RLDS designation throughout.
All forms of Mormonism are a distortion of Biblical truth, the person of Jesus Christ and of His gospel. And this “different” gospel of Mormonism is “no gospel at all,” just as the Apostle Paul warned the Galatian church (Gal. 1:7).
We minister in love to Latter Day Saints still caught up in this deception started by Joseph Smith. They have unwittingly placed their hope in a false prophet and his false scriptures, which portray a false system of religion and salvation.
And we minister in love to our Lord Jesus Christ by helping Him reclaim His lost sheep. Jesus said, “No man can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Our ministry is to those whom the Father is drawing. Those who love the Truth will recognize and respond to the Truth. Many Latter Day Saints, however, avoid the Truth we offer because they are afraid of it. But the Lord draws many to our ministry to help set them free from their bondage to Joseph Smith. He has been doing that through this ministry for a number of years now, and we have every expectation that He will continue to do so.
We thank God for His tender mercies. Will you hear His voice today?
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS),
now known as the "Community of Christ" church —
and it's breakaway "Restoration/Restored/Remnant Branch" movements.
The Mormon church, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is only one of more than a hundred different church organizations which sprang from the work of Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in 1830. The largest of these other churches is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) headquartered in Independence, Missouri.
Why a Reorganization? When Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was killed in 1844, an immediate leadership power struggle followed. Brigham Young, leader of the Council of Twelve Apostles, eventually gathered enough support to become the new Prophet/President. Under his leadership, a significant portion of the church migrated from Illinois to Utah in 1846-47.
But not everyone chose to follow Brigham Young to Utah. Some members chose to follow other leaders, or simply stay behind, scattered throughout the mid-west. Most of these members rejected Brigham Young's claim to leadership, as well as a variety of strange doctrines which Joseph Smith introduced during his later years in Nauvoo, Illinois. Some also believed that Joseph Smith had designated his own son, Joseph Smith, III, to be his lawful successor as President of the church. Sixteen years later, Joseph Smith III accepted the invitation of a group of congregations which claimed to be a "reorganization" of his father's original church, and became their president in 1860. His mother joined this Reorganization with him. This is how the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) was formed. The RLDS church rejected polygamy as unacceptable along with a number of other doctrines and practices such as baptism for the dead, eternal progression to godhood and secret temple ceremonies.
Here are some factors which set the RLDS church apart from Utah Mormonism.
They continuously had a direct descendant of Joseph Smith as their president – until 1996. (Mormons select their presidents from the Council of Twelve Apostles.)
Joseph Smith's widow, Emma Bidamon, joined with them. (Most of his later polygamous wives went west to Utah with Brigham Young.)
They own and publish Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible, which they call the Inspired Version. (Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible.)
They were awarded the "Kirtland Temple" (Joseph Smith's first temple, built in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836) when a court declared them the legal continuation of Joseph Smith's original church. Recently they completed building their second temple in Independence, Missouri. Both RLDS temples are open to the public. (Mormons have built numerous temples around the world, all closed to the public.)
They are headquartered in Joseph Smith's city of "Zion" — Independence, Missouri. (Mormons are headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.)
During recent decades, however, RLDS leadership have moved away from some of Joseph Smith's Latter Day Saint doctrine and identity, while at the same time endeavored to gain acceptance by mainstream Christianity. Beginning in 1984, many fundamentalists broke away from the RLDS church over this doctrinal "liberalism" and have since incorporated a variety of independent churches. Many of these groups use either the word "Restored," "Restoration" or "Remnant" in their name and consider themselves to be the "true" RLDS church, i.e., Joseph Smith's original church.
Unshackled by this fundamentalist movement, the surviving RLDS church has become increasingly "liberal." Whereas Joseph Smith claimed for his church the ultimate truth, and exclusive authority from God, today's RLDS leadership promotes religious pluralism"and "dialogue" with the world's religions. As their current Prophet/President confesses, "We have much to give. We have much to learn." (W. Grant McMurray, "A Prophetic People," Saints Herald, June 1996, p. 9.)
Pluralism teaches that God authored and works through all of the world's religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and that salvation can be found in them all. This view nullifies the fact that God has made Jesus Christ the exclusive means of reconciling mankind with Himself. It also nullifies Christ's "Great Commission" to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19-20). Pluralism also encourages a high level of tolerance, mutual respect and acceptance of all of the world's religions. It is in this sense that today's RLDS church continues to identify with the religious heritage left them by Joseph Smith. They claim it as their own unique contribution to the religious fabric of the world, by which they so desperately want to be accepted.
In keeping with this liberal direction, the RLDS church changed its public name to "Community of Christ" effective April 6, 2001. Regardless of this new liberal direction, the RLDS church continues to use Joseph Smith's elaborate — and un-Christian — priesthood structure, and most of its members still believe that the "scriptures" he created are equal or superior to the Bible.
Christian ministry to RLDS church members, and to their fundamentalist "Restoration" brothers, is the principal focus of Refiner's Fire Ministries.
Are you a Latter Day Saint?
Are you questioning things?
You are not alone.
This page is meant only for RLDS or Restoration Branch church members who have some nagging questions about their church. Right now, I would encourage you to thank God for your questions, as hard as that may be to do. These questions could very well be the Holy Spirit beginning to awaken you to His truth. Hang onto those questions, and work with them. If you love God, it is because He loved you first, and is desiring to draw you close to Himself. And He is being persistent with you. But it's up to you to respond to these leadings.
You need to know that every single person involved in this ministry has been where you are now. And we know what it's like. Every one of us has also pursued our questions, because we wanted to know the truth about God, and be in right relationship with Him. And in the process, each of us has been released from the errors of Joseph Smith. I know that may be hard for you to hear right now. But it's the truth.
I was an RLDS priesthood member for fifteen years. During that time I was a Pastor on two occasions as well as a Counselor to the San Francisco Bay Stake Bishop. During that entire time I never came across a Christian who was either willing or able to show me where I was wrong. Not one. But you cannot say that anymore. After all, you have come to this website and you are reading this page. There is an abundance of material on this site to explain to you--in detail--exactly what is un-Biblical about your church. Take a look at one of our books. Chances are that at least one of them will address some questions you have been having. Chances are they will also bring up some questions that haven't yet occurred to you.
During the course of your research you will undoubtedly discover some things that concern you. You will probably also come across some things that scare you. Why will they scare you? Because you'll realize you have given your life over to a church which is seriously misrepresenting God. This will be particularly scary if you are a priesthood member. I know it was for me. I thought I had been so right. But in reality, I had been so wrong.
Take heart, the Lord has not brought you this far just to condemn and destroy you. His purpose for your life is to bring you into a right relationship with Himself. But for that to happen, you must respond to the work He has started in you. Even though this will be painful, He will not let you experience more pain than you are able to bear, He will absorb the rest of it Himself. His purpose is not to destroy you.
There is a good chance that during this time you will experience a considerable amount of confusion and anxiety. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable part of the process. But it doesn't last forever. And we are here to help you though it. If you need more material, we have that. If you need to talk things through, we are here for you. If you need prayer, we will pray with you and for you. Most importantly, if you want to know Jesus, we can show you the way to Him. It's not at all complicated.
There is a way out of your dilemma. But the only way out of it is by going through it. We may not know you by name, but we are praying for you. And we are praying that God will set you free, just as He has set us free. It wasn't all that long ago we were sitting side by side in the same church. If you would like us to come along side you, please let us know. We are here to help.
May God bless you with His wonderful freedom and grace!
Paul Trask joined the RLDS church shortly after marrying Leslie in 1970. He ultimately embraced this church, and became an ardent supporter for 19 years. Paul held RLDS priesthood for 15 years, pastored RLDS churches in San Francisco and Independence, Missouri and was a Counselor to the San Francisco Bay Stake Bishop. In the late 1980s the Lord began to reveal to the Trasks the errors of Joseph Smith and the RLDS church. This process culminated with Paul’s resignation as pastor and the family’s departure from the RLDS church in early 1989. In 1988 Paul had been pastor of Restoration Branch, at that time the largest of the independent congregations in Independence.
In 1990 Paul enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and in 1993 graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree. In 1997 Paul published his first book, Part Way to Utah: the Forgotten Mormons. In early 2001 he created this website. And in 2006 he published his second book, The Long Way Home: Moving from a Pseudo-Christian Cult into Genuine Christianity.
Paul also holds a BBA from the University of Michigan, and is a CPA and Financial Consultant. Paul, and wife Leslie, currently live just outside Independence, Missouri, where Paul continues to write and speak widely about the Latter Day Saint movement.
Leslie Trask was a 6th generation Latter Day Saint on both sides of her family; an early ancestor died in the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri at the Haun’s Mill Massacre. While she was growing up her father was a pastor, High Priest, and later an Evangelist/Patriarch. For many years he was Counselor to the President of the Detroit International Stake of the RLDS church. Her mother taught and spoke widely in women's ministies.
As she and Paul became serious, she insisted she would never leave her church. Little did she know that they would ultimately both leave the church — and operate this ministry! Leslie continues to support Paul in his writing and speaking ministry, and she corresponds and counsels with those who are struggling with their involvment in Latter Day Saintism. You can read Leslie’s full testimony here.
What's New on Our Website?
If you haven't visited out site for awhile, you may be wondering what has been added recently. For your convenience we've listed on this page our most recent additions.
January 22, 2018
New Facebook Support Group!
Today we launched a new, "closed" Facebook group entitled, "Former RLDS, Community of Christ and Remnant/Restoration Branch Members." Here is our description of the new group:
"Welcome! You have found a safe and supportive place to discuss the difficult and deeply personal issues of faith.
While the issues you may be wrestling with are uniquely personal, you should be heartened to know that many, many others have gone before you. And we are here to help you deal with your unique situation.
WHO ARE WE?
This group is designed for former members of:
(1) the RLDS church (Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
(2) the Community of Christ church (CofC)
(3) any and all of the Remnant or Restoration Branch breakaway groups
Any current members of these groups are also welcome if they are honestly questioning the Latter Day Saint movement, or would like to explore their faith in the supportive context of this group.
The group is also open to mature Christians who are interested and/or concerned about those involved in the Latter Day Saint movement, and who can make a positive contribution.
This group is NOT open to apologists for these organizations, who want to promote, defend or debate Latter Day Saint issues, or to harass this group or any of its members. These apologists have their own forums. This is not one of them.
IMPORTANT: This is a “closed” Facebook group, meaning that only group members can see the content posted here. And it also means that those who administer the group exercise control over who participates. So before being admitted, the administrators may inquire a bit about your situation, and your intent. That will help keep this a safe, focused and confidential place.
In short, we are a support system. There are a variety of important issues which surround involvement in a Latter Day Saint church, ranging from scriptural and theological issues to social and family relationships. But most important is one’s relationship to God Himself. We are here to help address each of these concerns, as well as to offer support to each other as we reshape our walk of faith. Being in direct connection with others who understand and care is extremely important. Under the Lord’s direction, we bless each other in the process.
Again, Welcome! May the Lord richly bless each of our discussions!"
To check it out this new group, click here: Former RLDS, Community of Christ and Remnant/Restoration Branch Members
And please join us!
December 27, 2017
Paul Trask Hosted the 'Well Placed Faith' Radio Broadcast
On Tuesday, December 12 Paul Trask hosted the "Well Placed Faith" Radio Broadcast, standing in for Pastor Matt Burton. The subject for the day was the role of Melchizedek in the Bible. Listen in and discover the actual role of this shadowy Biblical character! It may just be diferent than you had been led to believe! You can listen to a recording of this broadcast here.
Check this out on Chirbit
December 4, 2017
Paul Trask to Host 'Well Placed Faith' Radio Broadcast
On Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Paul Trask will be hosting the “Well Placed Faith” radio broadcast, standing in for his friend, Pastor Matt Burton. Matt is currently discussing the opening chapters of Genesis, and has reached chapter 14, where Abram is met by Melchizedek. Melchizedek has been a subject of special interest for Paul, especially in his outreach to Latter Day Saints. And so Matt has asked that Paul stand in for him and discuss this shadowy Biblical character. This is an absolutely fascinating study! The broadcast is at 10 AM Central Time on Tuesday, December 12 on KCXL, 1140 AM and 102.9 FM here in the Kansas City area. Streaming audio of the broadcast can also be heard on the internet at http://tunein.com/radio/KCXL-1140-s32214/ Please feel free to ‘tune in’! Prayers would also be appreciated!
October 18, 2017
Breaking News — Community of Christ church Sells Original Handwritten Manuscript of the Book of Mormon to the Utah Mormon church for $35 million!
The Community of Christ church (CofC) here in Independence, MO (formerly the RLDS church) recently sold the original handwritten manuscript of the Book of Mormon to the Utah Mormon church for $35 million. This amounts to them selling the 'crown jewels' in order to adequately fund staff retirement accounts. Yet another sign that the CofC is imploding, and financially 'going down for the count.' Before this is over, I predict they will sell Kirkland Temple, just outside of Cleveland, to the Mormon church as well. That would likely net them even more than the $35 million from this sale. Stay tuned!
Missouri church’s book, in vault for decades, sells for record $35 million.
$35 million sale price for handwritten Book of Mormon sets new record
The sale of a handwritten copy of the Book of Mormon has set a new record for the highest price ever paid for a book.
The Kansas City Star
September 21, 2017, 6:23 pm ⏐ By Rick Montgomery, 816-234-4410 ⏐ firstname.lastname@example.org
"The Independence headquarters of Community of Christ has sold what it says is the most expensive book manuscript of all time: a handwritten copy of the original Book of Mormon. The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bought the manuscript for $35 million through the gifts of donors, the Mormon-owned Deseret News reported Wednesday. Community of Christ — formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or RLDS — plans to use proceeds of the record-setting sale to enhance retirement accounts for employees within the international network of its churches, a spokeswoman said Thursday. Community of Christ boasts 250,000 members across 58 nations. The Deseret News said the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon is the most complete copy of the original dictated by church founder Joseph Smith to several scribes. In 1830, it became the guide by which the type was set by a printer in Palmyra, N.Y., to produce the first edition of the Book of Mormon. Smith had brought the Mormons near Independence, where he had plans to build the city of Zion. The Community of Christ bought the manuscript as part of a collection in 1903 for $2,500 — about $65,000 in today’s dollars. It was kept in an Independence vault until its delivery to Utah earlier this week. The LDS Church is planning to display the manuscript for the public at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, an LDS release said. Before now, according to both churches, the highest amount ever paid for a book was $30.8 million, set in 1994 for a manuscript of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex Leicester.” The buyer was Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Though sharing an early heritage with the Mormon church, Community of Christ is a separate denomination with differing beliefs and practices than LDS. Community of Christ said in a statement that the manuscript sale did not reflect any change in its beliefs in the Book of Mormon, which remains “an important part of our church’s heritage and ongoing sacred story.” The church’s three books of scripture are the Bible, Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants."
To see the actual Kansas City Star article click here (last accessed October 18, 2017).
February 24, 2017
New Testimony — Jennifer (Benedict) Raines
Jennifer (Benedict) Raines, attorney at law, had a wonderful time growing up in the “Centerplace” during the 1970’s and early 80’s. Nearly everything she did was “at church, for church, or with church members.” In her words she lived and breathed church. During the tumultuous conference of 1984 when delegates voted to accept the revelation admitting women into the priesthood, she actively participated in a march protesting the decision. It was about fifteen years later that she began seriously examining the faith she grew up in. She found many disturbing facts in her church’s history that caused her to doubt the validity of her beliefs. She accepted an invitation to visit a Baptist Church and began attending a class called “A Closer Look: Examining the RLDS Faith” where she viewed material she had not previously seen. It was during that time she read Peter Elliott’s book “Reasons for Disbelief” and as a result made the final decision to leave the church. She resigned her membership in the Community of Christ and in September 2011 was re-baptized. She is now a believer in the real and enduring God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus of the Bible.
I always believed that we were just like everyone else – just another protestant church – not some aberration. I grew up in Center Stake, in Independence. My father was a high priest and a pastor at two different churches in Independence. His father was an Elder and also a pastor at a congregation in Independence. At one time, my dad was even considered to go under church appointment where we would move and live somewhere for an extended period of time doing church work. My mother’s immediate family emigrated from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to Independence in the late 1950’s to be in the Center Place. My mother and her mother were the principal cooks for every church camp, retreat, and banquet for Center Stake as well as surrounding stakes. My grandmother was especially well known and respected in the church for her service and Christian presence. Wallace B. Smith personally delivered the message at her funeral and there were hundreds of people in attendance. I think I was probably 4th generation RLDS on both sides. We lived and breathed church as I was growing up in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Nearly everything we did was at church, for church, or with church members – we were at church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights, and at the Campus (now the Family Life Center) swimming or playing sports every day. Literally, church was our life. Since we were in Independence it was rare for me to even have friends that weren’t church members. I had a wonderful time growing up. I remember at some point during my teen years, my best friend (and nearly only non-RLDS friend), attended Independence Christian School. I went to school functions with her and dated boys from that school – mostly Baptist but also Pentecostal. I went to church with them on dates. Their church services were mostly just like what I was used to so it didn’t occur to me that my faith was different. One of my friends from that school told me that in their religion class, they were being taught that the RLDS church was a “cult” because we followed a man who talks to God and we used the Book of Mormon as scripture. As a good little church member, I told them that was impossible – the Bible predicts both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith as a prophet. They looked at me like I was nuts. I just figured they hadn’t read their Bibles. I checked my 3-in-1 and confirmed I was right. Of course. Then came the 1984 World Conference. I was there every day – I believe I was even a delegate that year. I was fourteen. I remember the debate over women in the priesthood and the talk of Wally B. being a false prophet. It was tumultuous. My mother and all of her church girlfriends, my dad’s mother, me and my church girlfriends, all participated in a march on the Auditorium and the Central Professional Building (where the church offices were located at the time), in protest against the revelation. I vividly remember making the protest signs. But, we stayed in the church until after 1986 when my father became terribly concerned with being “silenced” and losing his priesthood because of the things he was preaching. My understanding at the time was that the silencing was becoming imminent and as the Stake President was a close friend, he allowed my father to resign as pastor and just sort of slip away. We transferred our membership to Stone Church, the largest congregation at the time, and disappeared. We had church in our basement for a while until more organized Restoration groups emerged. However, even then we were afraid to attend any of the Restoration groups because of the potential consequences with the church. Eventually, we faded away and stopped going to church anywhere. This was a devastating loss for my entire family – we lost our church, our friends, parts of our family, and our security. The church still divides my family in many ways and I would venture to guess that since that time, no member of my immediate family has attended ANY church on a regular basis. It wasn’t until about 15 years later that I truly started examining my faith. Someone close to me made a comment about how foolish it was to belong to a made-up church founded by some guy named “Joe Smith.” Kind of funny I guess. But it started my questioning. I asked my father and surprisingly he directed me to several websites and provided other materials. Apparently, he had been searching for answers as well and had actually been in contact with the church historian. I learned that the Book of Mormon was not translated by use of the Urim and Thummim and the golden plates, but by Joseph putting a peep stone in his hat and conjuring up the words – most of which came from other sources. I learned that none of the three witnesses or the eight witnesses had ever physically seen the plates. And, I learned some pretty disturbing things in church history – that baptism for the dead and polygamy began with Joseph Smith, (which was the real reason for the destruction of the printing press in Nauvoo), the story of the Danites in northern Missouri and the fact that no matter where he went, Joseph Smith took a peaceful community and turned it deadly. What is amazing to me looking back is that there was still so much to learn! But that was enough for me to make a decision to find another church to attend – or I should say a church to attend since I wasn’t attending any church regularly. I church-hopped for a while and landed at a Lutheran church where I stayed for about five years. I became a member by attending membership classes. They accepted my baptism in the RLDS church, along with their classes, as sufficient for membership. Obviously, they knew nothing of the RLDS faith. At this point, I had rejected the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the church, but it did not occur to me to give up my membership. Why did I have to? And what if Joseph Smith was right and it was the only true church? Giving up your membership meant falling away and being eternally damned. I resumed my previous research but at this point I didn’t know what to do about what I was finding, which was increasingly disturbing. I continued attending my Lutheran Church and occasionally went with my parents to visit friends at a Community of Christ or Restoration congregation. In the spring of 2011, I was having a difficult time in my life. One day, I felt an overwhelming need to pray for peace and guidance. I dropped my daughter off at daycare at Messiah Lutheran Church in Independence and went up to their sanctuary but it was not open. Where else could I go? I knew that the Community of Christ Temple had a chapel (my grandmother had been a tour guide there) that was open to the public for prayer and meditation. So, I went there. I signed the guest book and sat down to pray. An attendant asked if she could do anything for me and I said no. She left and I was alone. I sat and prayed for guidance. I felt nothing. So, I prayed some more. Still nothing. I looked at the paintings on the walls depicting the ordinances of the church. I prayed some more. Then it occurred to me what was going on – neither God nor the Holy Spirit was present there. Or, perhaps they were present and telling me I couldn’t find what I was looking for there. I left the Temple in tears. I sat in my car in the parking lot and prayed – what was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? I have often heard that when you ask God a question, you must be prepared for the answer. My answer came that day. A new employee in my office invited me to visit her Baptist church. Wow I thought – that was fast! I looked at the church’s website – I really didn’t know anything about the Baptist church. I saw that there was a Sunday School class called “A Closer Look – Examining the RLDS Faith.” Surely this was my answer. I started attending that church and the class, and reviewed materials that I had not seen before. But, mostly I was amazed that there were so many other people in my situation! These people had left the church and/or the Restoration and they were all fine. Peter Elliott’s book, “Reasons for Disbelief” was instrumental in my final decision. I had never heard of The Position Papers until reading Peter’s book. When I asked my dad about them, he handed me a copy that had been bound and printed in 1969. What I learned was that the World Church had determined BEFORE I was even born that the foundation of the RLDS church was fraudulent and corrupt. Yet, at least until I stopped attending an RLDS church in the late 1980’s the church was still teaching the same materials! How could they perpetrate such a fraud?! They knew about the peep stone and hat; they knew the Inspired Version was a fabrication; they knew Joseph Smith founded (and practiced) the doctrines of baptism for the dead and polygamy and encouraged a belief in the plurality of gods. Quite simply – THEY KNEW!!! Over the ensuing months, I finalized my research and worked through some issues (with the help of a few hours of conversation with Carol Hansen) in August 2011. I resigned my membership in the Community of Christ Church and in September 2011, was re-baptized a believer in the real and enduring God, Holy Spirit, and the true Jesus Christ – not the one created by a man with a rock in a hat.
February 22, 2017
New Testimony — Paul Gouty, Jr.
Paul Gouty, Jr. was baptized into the RLDS Church at eight years old and raised in a family dedicated to the Church and the teachings of Joseph Smith. Regular church attendance was a must with most RLDS faithful, and as was the expectation, Paul attended Graceland College. However, during the years of turmoil in the church in the late 70’s and 80’s Paul began to realize that the “one and only true church” was not so true to Christ’s teachings. His curiosity led him to research church history and the teachings of Joseph Smith and that in turn led to many questions. Due to a career change, Paul and his wife Jelene lived in several different cities and visited many non-RLDS churches where he was exposed to Biblical teachings and the real message of salvation as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9. As a result, he accepted the Lord as his Savior and was re-baptized. Grateful for the Bible, the infallible Word of God, he now shares the message of salvation with RLDS family and other RLDS faithful.My Testimony -- Paul Gouty Jr., Grain Valley, MO, July 2, 2016 I would like to share my testimony in five parts.
1. My experience growing up in the RLDS church.
2. Why I left “the church” and the fallout that followed.
3. My conversion experience—the five words the Lord spoke to me that changed my life.
4. My life since that moment.
5. My appeal to you.1. My experience growing up in the RLDS church As with most RLDS faithful, I was baptized at eight years old and raised in a fairly strict RLDS family. My parents were active members of “the church” in the Chicago area for most of my childhood. My father, Paul Gouty Sr., became a missionary in the early 1950’s and later pastored several congregations. My mother was involved in music ministry and taught Sunday school classes. Much of our family time was dedicated to church work, with prayer meetings every Wednesday evening and services every Sunday morning and night. I was active in Zion’s League, and most summers I went to Junior High and Senior High camps, and I attended Graceland College for two years. At an early age we were taught the story of the “vision in the grove”—that when Joseph Smith was 14 years old he was trying to find a church to join and how he went to the woods to pray. He said he saw God and Jesus descend from heaven in a pillar of light, and one turned to the other and said, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” Jesus then told him, “to join none of them, that all their creeds were abominations in His sight.” Later the angel Moroni visited Joseph and told him he was to restore Christ’s church on earth in the latter days. It was stressed we were the one and only true church, and only our church had the three sacred books of scripture: the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, but most important was the Book of Mormon. We were taught that Joseph was given the gold plates by the angel Moroni from which the Book of Mormon was translated by the use of the Urim and Thummim as the inspired word of God that restored many “plain and precious truths” that were left out of the Bible. According to Joseph this was “the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion” given only to our church as an account of the people on this continent (“the other sheep I have not of this fold”) that were visited by Jesus after His resurrection. The Doctrine and Covenants gave us God’s revelations to live by as given to the prophets of the church, and due to the many errors in translation, Joseph “corrected” the King James Bible to produce our own “Inspired Version.” As a young boy I felt our church was “better” because we had what no other church had. But, as I recall, most of our Sunday school classes were not about the Bible, but about Joseph, his teachings, and the struggles of the early church. Sunday morning sermons were generally personal testimonies by the priesthood exhorting the “Saints” to be steadfast in our beliefs; or from traveling missionaries sharing their experiences; or from the Elders about current issues in the church. I remember one of these issues included weeks of endless bickering about changing the name of our hymnal from the “The Saint’s Hymnal” to simply, “The Hymnal.” Except for Christmas and Easter, I remember very few Bible-based sermons regarding what Jesus did on the cross or the salvation message. The most important things taught were: to be baptized into “the church;” to be confirmed by “laying on of hands” by the Elders to receive the Holy Spirit; and to be a “faithful servant” by obeying all of the commandments. If you did these things you would surely go to heaven. As a pastor, Dad was always burdened with church issues—problems among church members; callings to the priesthood; promoting, and at times defending the RLDS doctrine; having to prepare a sermon because someone cancelled at the last minute; and always budget issues, to name a few. At one point he had to report to the General Church that our Stake President was having an affair with a married woman. Dad was especially disillusioned when he found out that the First Presidency simply “demoted” the man from High Priest to Elder, and that was the end of it. Sundays were not joyful. Those years were especially stressful for Dad and it affected our family as well—I know I had some serious doubts about what was going on. The gospel message seemed secondary to the problems not only in the local branches, but also in the general church, especially in the 70’s and 80’s. It was during this period that W. Wallace Smith, Prophet and President (1958 – 1978) by revelation announced that, “The demands of a growing church require that these principles [former revelations] shall be evaluated and subjected to further interpretation.” This gave him great latitude in changing previous doctrine. What we didn’t know at the time, in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, the “upper management” of the church was meeting secretly to outline the “Position Papers” that redefined some of Joseph’s teachings. As a result, this gave rise to great concern as Wallace led the church in a new direction, “…to acknowledge those organizations and movements which are recognizing the worth of persons.” As I remember, this was a time of disenchantment for the membership as the news spread that Wallace was moving the church away from some of the fundamental RLDS doctrine so our church would be more like mainstream Protestant Churches. This may have been why the removal of the word “Saints” from the hymnal was so important as it may have identified us with the Utah Mormons. Rumors also spread that we were opening the door to accepting the homosexual lifestyle. Then Wallace B. Smith, Prophet and President (1978 – 1996) took over and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. “Wally B.” would surely restore Joseph’s teachings. But this was not the case. He exercised “theocratic democracy” of which the church membership would vote on whether or not to accept the prophet’s (God’s) revelations. To my wife and me, voting on God’s Word made no sense. It led to a divisive time for the church, when in 1984 it was voted on and approved at General Conference that women should be allowed into the priesthood. This prompted a mass exodus from the church. My Dad, then a High Priest, was silenced along with many other dissenting priesthood members. Churches that objected had their doors padlocked and thousands of the faithful left to form splinter groups. The RLDS church as we knew it was gone and replaced by the Community of Christ Church (CoC). The CoC has recently approved gay marriage and gays in the priesthood. 2. Why I left “the church” and the fallout that followed It was during this tumultuous period in the RLDS church that my wife and I were trying to find a church home where we could raise our two sons. We didn’t consider the RLDS church as an option with so many doctrinal concerns—we agreed we didn’t need Joseph Smith and Jesus to be saved, we just needed Jesus, so we chose to look elsewhere for a Christ-based church. We visited many churches where we heard Bible teachings and the real message of salvation as stated in Ephesians 2: 8-9. I was so comforted to know we were saved by faith in Jesus alone, and we had the promise of God’s grace and mercy. When my family found out that I was not returning to “the church,” it resulted in a great deal of resentment and bitterness. My family told me I was wrong, and to “Get my fact’s straight!” and reminded me that “You need to find the truth!” Fortunately, while working at Family Bookstores, my wife, Jelene, met Carol Hansen who had written a book, Reorganized Latter Day Saint Church: Is It Christian? and we began studying the RLDS doctrine included in her book. We also read other authors including Fawn Brodie, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, and Paul Trask. The more I read, the more convinced I became that Joseph’s many changes, deletions, and additions to the Bible, his introduction of many new revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the new gospel of the Book of Mormon, led to much confusion. To me, the contradictions were staggering. So in my quest for “the truth,” as my family demanded, I proceeded to share my concerns and asked them and some other RLDS faithful about some concerns and questions I had. Here is a small sample. (References shown)
1. The three glories of heaven always baffled me. The 76th Section of the D&C describes them. (See D&C Section 76:6c,7f)
a. “Seek Celestial Glory” (the highest glory) was written on the back wall of the South Chrysler branch. How do you reach this level? b. The next two levels offer a second chance to accept the Lord, but the Bible says, “Today is the day of your salvation.” Will we have a second chance to accept the Lord? c. Jesus only resides in the Celestial Glory—a heaven without Jesus in the lower two levels? d. D&C 76:5h says “they are gods…” Will we be gods in heaven?
2. In the book of Moroni it says that the remission of sins is tied to keeping the commandments. (See BoM, Moroni 8:29) 3. In 2 Nephi it says that I am a fool for believing that the Bible is the only book that contains all of God’s Words. (See BoM, 2 Nephi 12:53, 64) 4. I asked an RLDS Pastor this question: In my experience growing up, we got baptized on Sunday and were to be confirmed the next Sunday. What if, when you were eight years old, you were baptized one Sunday, but tragically died before next Sunday’s confirmation by the “laying on of hands” to receive the Holy Spirit would you not go to heaven? I would encourage you to ask your pastor the same question. 5. Moroni was a general in the army in the Book of Mormon, but later appeared to Joseph as an angel. Can people become angels? (See Inspired Version and NLT Col. 1:16) 6. Was it okay to remove some of the sections from the Doctrine and Covenants? (Sections 107, 109, 110, 113, and 123 were moved to the Appendix—107 was a revelation.) 7. In the book of Alma it says, Jesus was born at Jerusalem but the Inspired Version says Bethlehem. (BoM, Alma 5: 19 and Inspired Version, Matt. 3:1) 8. In church history, Joseph said the angel that visited him in his bedroom regarding the golden plates was Nephi, but the Doctrine and Covenants said it was Moroni. Which is correct? (See RLDS Church History Vol. 1, p. 12 and D&C 26:2) 9. The Inspired Version says that all languages were confounded at the Tower of Babel, but the Book of Mormon says the language of the Jaredites was not confounded. Which is right? (See Inspired Version, Genesis 11:6 and BoM, Ether 1:11) 10. The French word “Adieu” is the last word in the Book of Jacob. How could it be written on the plates in 600 BC when the word was first created from Latin in 1350 AD? 11. In 559 BC Nephi quoted the prophet Malachi who hadn’t made the statement until 150 years later.You would be surprised at the responses. Many of the questions were answered with, “I’m not sure” or, “Where does it say that?”. As referenced above, I was prepared to show them in the “three sacred books” the verses from which these questions were raised, and with what verse(s) they contradicted not only within their own three books, but more importantly with the Bible. This led to more discussion, more questions, and more confusion as these apparent contradictions I had pointed out caused more frustrations for them as the contradictions just kept coming. My concluding statement to them was, “The more I read the three RLDS sacred books, the more questions I have, but the more I read the Bible, the more questions I have answered.” I’d hoped this would encourage them to study God’s Word to find His truth. A real problem for one RLDS faithful has been the notion that you are saved by doing good works. He told me, “If you lined up 80 people, with Billy Graham at one end, and ranked them downward according to works to Jeffrey Dahmer at the other end, you would have to draw a line somewhere between to decide who would go to heaven and who would go to hell.” This person hasn’t understood the message of salvation by grace through faith, as all three books of RLDS doctrine supported by comments of church leaders as well as RLDS publications, implies salvation is achieved by doing good works. The recurring message in my years in the RLDS church was if you “keep the commandments” and “do good works to the end” you’ll make it to the Celestial Kingdom—very much a works-based salvation message. This was taught by priesthood as well. F. Henry Edwards, renowned RLDS missionary stated, “Men are saved by working at worthy tasks.” (Herald Publishing House, 1960, p. 362) It begs the question: “How good is good enough?” While researching RLDS history, I spent considerable time studying the life of Joseph Smith. The good news is that virtually everything was recorded in church history or now documented online so it was easy to research topics. There are countless references to his activities that provided me with a close look at his teachings and legitimacy as a true prophet. As I reviewed the documentation and dozens of testimonies covering Joseph’s early life as a treasure hunter, at least five different versions of his “vision in the grove,” the questions regarding the translation and authenticity of the Book of Mormon, the many changes he made to the Doctrine and Covenants, his unfulfilled prophecies, the fraud in Kirtland, turmoil in Missouri that led to the “Mormon War,” and what many call “the evil in Nauvoo,” I became convinced that Joseph was a man of questionable moral character and certainly not trustworthy as a true prophet of God. I therefore have serious doubts about what he claimed to be revealed to him by God, especially regarding the doctrine in the three books of the church, and most notably his Book of Abraham which was later proved to be total fabrication—a complete lie to the Saints in Kirtland. In 2 Peter 2:1-3 the Bible accurately describes the behavior of a false prophet—in my opinion Joseph fits the description perfectly. I would encourage anyone that has been in the position to witness to an RLDS faithful to first become knowledgeable, not only of RLDS posits, but what the Bible has to say about each. I would recommend reading:
a. Reorganized Latter Day Saint Church: Is It Christian?, by Carol Hansen
b. Part Way to Utah and The Long Way Home, by Paul Trask
c. No Man Knows My History, by Fawn Brodie
d. Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner
e. An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, by Grant PalmerFortunately, in my study of the Bible, I have found the exact scriptures that answer not only the above questions, but countless more. During this process of study I have been able to witness to one of my family (formerly a Mormon) which led them to be baptized into a Christian Church. However, another faithful member who has given his life to “the church” is still a firm believer. But recently, when we discussed some of the above questions, and identified contradictions within their three books and with what the Bible said, this person began to have doubts, even to the point of asking me, “Do you think I’ve been wrong all these years?” The seeds are planted. Eventually, the Bible, God’s infallible Word, will always prevail. 3. My conversion experience—the five words the Lord said to me that changed my life In the process of finding a church home, as I mentioned before, Jelene and I visited a number of churches, and we joined a few. However, in one church we attended for several years, the married pastor was found to be having an affair with a member so we left that church. Next, we joined a church only to find out that the pastor, and good friend, had stolen $80,000 from the new church building fund and left town, so we left. I became discouraged, and I put my church life on the back burner. When you distance yourself from the Lord you become closer to Satan and I became the poster child of this truth. My behaviors were shameful as my life was spinning out of control in a spiral downward—a classic case of “If you find yourself farther away from the Lord than you used to be, guess who moved?” I reached a new low during the summer of 2012. But thanks to my wife, we started attending East Side Baptist Church and the message of hope was slowly revived in me through the weekly gospel messages. However, it also magnified my guilt even more. By the end of 2012 I was at an all time low. I was disgusted with my pitiful lifestyle but couldn’t shake it. I was sacrificing my wife, loved ones, grandchildren, finances, and many things I held dear. I knew I had to make some changes and was trying to come up with some New Year’s resolutions to “fix things.” On January 3rd, 2013, around 5 pm I was driving down I-435 on my way to Costco to pick up some things before going home. As I was still wrestling with making decisions about my resolutions, a very vivid memory of my mom came to mind. On her birthday in November of 1996 she called her four children together for what she knew might be the last time—she was dying of cancer. When we got together in her bedroom, although she struggled with speaking, she looked at each one of us and said, “Trust in the Lord, He’ll always be there.” As I continued along I-435, almost oblivious to my surroundings, her words haunted me. As I pondered them, I had not what I’d call a vision, but an absolutely clear picture before me of Christ looking right at me as he hung on the cross. Although He was in unspeakable agony, all I saw was compassion in His eyes, as though I were the only thing that mattered to Him. He then asked, “What are you waiting for?” That question demanded an answer. I asked myself “What am I waiting for? I looked at him and answered with what I believe were words given to me by the Holy Spirit, “Ok Lord, let’s do this, what’s next.” This brief statement has three parts: “Okay Lord,” submission; “Let’s do this,” we’re in this together; and “What’s next?,” I’m yours, take me where you want me to go. 4. My life since that moment At that instant, I felt the Holy Spirit enter my life. The weight of my guilt was lifted, my hope was renewed, and a peace came over me that was comforting beyond description. “Total relief” best describes that moment. I truly felt “born again.” By this time I had arrived at Costco, I didn’t even go in. I threw my second master in a trash can and raced home to tell Jelene. We cried, we prayed, we rejoiced—she got her husband back, and I got my life back. D. L. Moody once said: “You may as well turn your life over to Christ because He can do a whole lot better job with it than you can.” Words don’t do justice to the excitement I had found in my new found walk with the Lord. My attitudes changed, my motivations changed as every part of my life became better—truly a spiritual rebirth. Three months later I was baptized at East Side and became a member in April 2013. Our marriage was the first thing that blossomed as we worshipped together. We began tithing and were blessed financially. I started teaching a middle school group of boys and realized the value of service through my time with these young men. Through our church family, especially our C-3 group, we are so blessed by the fellowship of other believers. I now have occasion to teach an adult men’s class which gives me a chance to study and learn with other Christian men. We so look forward to Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I regret giving up on Him at times, but my Mom’s words are so true. I thank the Lord for never giving up on me. 5. My appeal to you I realize some of my comments and questions in this testimony might offend some, but the intent is not to offend or discredit, but to encourage you to search the Bible for the truth. Putting doctrinal differences aside, nothing is more important in this life than our salvation. It costs you nothing to accept Him but everything if you don’t. I recently spoke with a priesthood member of a Restoration Branch. I asked him why he felt so many had doubts and were leaving the church. He paused for a moment and said that many of the members felt “burdened.” I knew that feeling. For so many years I didn’t really know if I was good enough—I felt so guilty of my failures. I asked an RLDS High Priest if he knew which level of heaven he was going to. He said he wasn’t sure, that Jesus would be the judge. I sensed his concern that you had to wait to die to know your eternal destiny. Question: Why would a loving God not give you this assurance? Answer: Read John 3: 16 and Ephesians 2:8-9. If you depend on RLDS doctrine, your lack of assurance is steeped in legalism and dependent on works—that what Christ did on the cross was not sufficient enough—that we have to do more to be saved. I lived with this uncertainty for 67 years—I know what you’re feeling. Trust the Bible when it says that what Christ did on the cross is complete and sufficient for our salvation. Putting doctrinal differences aside, nothing is more important in this life than our salvation. It costs you nothing to accept Jesus into your life—but everything if you don’t. Romans 12:2 advises, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Rick Warren suggests: “Nothing is more important than knowing God’s Will for you, and nothing can compensate for not knowing it.” IN CLOSING, the most important question you can ask yourself is: “Have I been born again through faith in Jesus Christ?”
If you have: If you have not: 1. All your sins are forgiven. 1. You are guilty of every sin you’ve ever committed. 2. You will have joy in your walk with Him. 2. You may have moments of happiness, but no real joy. 3. You will spend eternity in heaven. 3. You’ll spend eternity in hell.
June 30, 2016
Thank you for praying for the Community of Christ (RLDS) World Conference!
Many thanks to those of you who prayed for the Community of Christ (RLDS) World Conference the week of June 6! Thousands of pieces of literature were distributed to Conference attendees, accompanied by countless conversations. Despite the heat here in Missouri that week, the team of street evangelists held up well, and were gratified by the receptive spirit of the many Conference attendees with whom they spoke.
And we know that their efforts have been effective so far! This website has seen a dramatic, sustained spike in new activity ever since, and we have received multiple book orders as well. Once they got home, these attendees got out that literature they had been collecting all week, and began reading it. And that apparently has wetted the appetite of many to learn more. We are grateful for this, and hopeful that God will use the truth of His Word to set many of these people free from the errors of Joseph Smith.
Please continue to pray with us for their deliverance from the false gospel and scriptures of Joseph Smith, and for their acceptance of Jesus alone, and the real Bible alone!
June 7, 2016
Please pray for the Community of Christ (RLDS) World Conference This Week!
Please pray for the Community of Christ (RLDS) World Conference this week. I created 11 pamphlets specifically for this event, and a team of street evangelists will hand out 3,300 copies to Conference attendees from around the world. Please pray that the Lord will lift the veil of Joseph Smith's deception, and lead people into the Truth. Thanks very much! (If you're interested in any of these pamphlets, just let me know and I'll send you a copy.)
October 23, 2014
Paul Trask Talks About Joseph Smith's Priesthood System on the 'Well Placed Faith' Radio Broadcast
Paul Trask had a great program this past Tuesday on the 'Well Placed Faith' radio broadcast. He spoke extensively on Joseph Smith's priesthood system, which is neither Biblical nor Christian. You can listen to it here.
Check this out on Chirbit
October 16, 2014
New Letter from Dennis & Phyllis Barnes
Hello to both of you,
God sold our home on September 15th and we are moving on October the 6th
Paul we can not thank you enough for your teaching God's word in Sunday School. We are so very appreciative of the knowledge you imparted to us concerning the heresy of Joseph Smith. We will continue to pray for your ministry to not only Latter Day Saints but all who are seeking the truth.
Love you both,
Dennis & Phyllis Barnes
October 16, 2014
Paul Trask Hosted the 'Well Placed Faith' Radio Broadcast
Paul Trask sat in for Pastor Matt Burton this past Tuesday and hosted his Well Placed Faith radio broadcast. You can listen below. Paul will be on the show agin this coming Tuesday at 10 AM central, but will not be hosting it this time. For those in the KC area the station is KCXL, 1140 AM and 102.9 FM. Streaming audio can be heard on the internet using this web address: http://tunein.com/radio/KCXL-1140-s32214/
Check this out on Chirbit
October 8, 2014
Paul & Leslie Trask featured on Radio Show
This past Tuesday, Oct 7, Paul & Leslie Trask were the featured guests on the “Well Placed Faith,” radio show. Leslie, a former 6th generation Latter Day Saint, shared her testimony. You can listen to a recording of this broadcast here.
Paul will be on the show again this coming Tues, Oct 14. So if you have any questions or comments, just let us know. We may well talk about it on the air!
Check this out on Chirbit
October 2, 2014
Paul Trask to be featured again on Radio Show — Tues, Oct 7 at 10AM Central
On Tuesday, October 7 Paul Trask will once again be the featured guest on the “Well Placed Faith” radio broadcast, hosted by pastor Matt Burton. The show is aired at 10:00 AM Central Time, and broadcast on 1140 AM and 102.9 FM for those in the greater Kansas City region. You can listen to streaming audio of the show by logging onto
Feel free to also check out the station’s website at http://www.kcxl.com.
If you have a question or comment you’d like us to address during the program, please use the “Contact Us” button at the top of this page.
When we are able, we will post a recording of the show on this page. So stay tuned!
October 2, 2014
Paul Trask featured on Radio Show
On Tuesday, September 23 Paul Trask was the featured guest on “Well Placed Faith,” a live radio broadcast hosted by Paul’s good friend, pastor Matt Burton. You can listen to a recording of this broadcast here.
Check this out on Chirbit
August 1, 2014
New Article — "Bedrock of a Faith is Jolted"
The following article was front page news in the Los Angeles Times while we were living there in 2006. It caused quite a stir.
There is an option to download a pdf copy at the end of the article.
DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture.
The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.
Los Angeles Times
Front Page News Article
February 16, 2006 ⏐ William Lobdell ⏐ Times Staff Writer
From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.
”We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people,” said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. “It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God.”A VOTE FOR OPENNESS: Salt Lake City attorney
Jose A. Loayza, shown at Temple Square, says
the Church of Latter-day Saints should embrace
the controversy: “They should openly address it.”
(Steve C. Wilson/For The Times)
A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.
“I've gone through stages,” he said. “Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness.”
For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error.
For those outside the faith, the depth of the church's dilemma can be explained this way: Imagine if DNA evidence revealed that the Pilgrims didn't sail from Europe to escape religious persecution but rather were part of a migration from Iceland — and that U.S. history books were wrong.
Critics want the church to admit its mistake and apologize to millions of Native Americans it converted. Church leaders have shown no inclination to do so. Indeed, they have dismissed as heresy any suggestion that Native American genetics undermine the Mormon creed.
Yet at the same time, the church has subtly promoted a fresh interpretation of the Book of Mormon intended to reconcile the DNA findings with the scriptures. This analysis is radically at odds with long-standing Mormon teachings.
Some longtime observers believe that ultimately, the vast majority of Mormons will disregard the genetic research as an unworthy distraction from their faith.
“This may look like the crushing blow to Mormonism from the outside,” said Jan Shipps, a professor emeritus of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who has studied the church for 40 years. “But religion ultimately does not rest on scientific evidence, but on mystical experiences. There are different ways of looking at truth.”
According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an angel named Moroni led Joseph Smith in 1827 to a divine set of golden plates buried in a hillside near his New York home.
God provided the 22-year-old Smith with a pair of glasses and seer stones that allowed him to translate the “Reformed Egyptian” writings on the golden plates into the “Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
Mormons believe these scriptures restored the church to God's original vision and left the rest of Christianity in a state of apostasy.
The book's narrative focuses on a tribe of Jews who sailed from Jerusalem to the New World in 600 BC and split into two main warring factions.
The God-fearing Nephites were “pure” (the word was officially changed from “white” in 1981) and “delightsome.” The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the “curse of blackness,” turning their skin dark.
According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors “the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white.
Over the years, church prophets — believed by Mormons to receive revelations from God — and missionaries have used the supposed ancestral link between the ancient Hebrews and Native Americans and later Polynesians as a prime conversion tool in Central and South America and the South Pacific.
“As I look into your faces, I think of Father Lehi [patriarch of the Lamanites], whose sons and daughters you are,” church president and prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said in 1997 during a Mormon conference in Lima, Peru. “I think he must be shedding tears today, tears of love and gratitude. “This is but the beginning of the work in Peru.”
In recent decades, Mormonism has flourished in those regions, which now have nearly 4 million members — about a third of Mormon membership worldwide, according to church figures.
“That was the big sell,” said Damon Kali, an attorney who practices law in Sunnyvale, Calif., and is descended from Pacific Islanders. “And quite frankly, that was the big sell for me. I was a Lamanite. I was told the day of the Lamanite will come.”
A few months into his two-year mission in Peru, Kali stopped trying to convert the locals. Scientific articles about ancient migration patterns had made him doubt that he or anyone else was a Lamanite.
“Once you do research and start getting other viewpoints, you're toast,” said Kali, who said he was excommunicated in 1996 over issues unrelated to the Lamanite issue. “I could not do missionary work anymore.”
Critics of the Book of Mormon have long cited anachronisms in its narrative to argue that it is not the work of God. For instance, the Mormon scriptures contain references to a seven-day week, domesticated horses, cows and sheep, silk, chariots and steel. None had been introduced in the Americas at the time of Christ.
In the 1990s, DNA studies gave Mormon detractors further ammunition and new allies such as Simon G. Southerton, a molecular biologist and former bishop in the church.DISSENT: Molecular biologist and Mormon
Simon G. Southerton concluded that his
faith needed to be reevaluated.
Southerton, a senior research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia, said genetic research allowed him to test his religious views against his scientific training.
Genetic testing of Jews throughout the world had already shown that they shared common strains of DNA from the Middle East. Southerton examined studies of DNA lineages among Polynesians and indigenous peoples in North, Central and South America. One mapped maternal DNA lines from 7,300 Native Americans from 175 tribes.
Southerton found no trace of Middle Eastern DNA in the genetic strands of today's American Indians and Pacific Islanders.
In “Losing a Lost Tribe,” published in 2004, he concluded that Mormonism — his faith for 30 years — needed to be reevaluated in the face of these facts, even though it would shake the foundations of the faith.
The problem is that Mormon leaders cannot acknowledge any factual errors in the Book of Mormon because the prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed it the “most correct of any book on Earth,” Southerton said in an interview.
“They can't admit that it's not historical,” Southerton said. “They would feel that there would be a loss of members and loss in confidence in Joseph Smith as a prophet.”
Officially, the Mormon Church says that nothing in the Mormon scriptures is incompatible with DNA evidence, and that the genetic studies are being twisted to attack the church.
“We would hope that church members would not simply buy into the latest DNA arguments being promulgated by those who oppose the church for some reason or other,” said Michael Otterson, a Salt Lake City-based spokesman for the Mormon church.
“The truth is, the Book of Mormon will never be proved or disproved by science,” he said.
Unofficially, church leaders have tacitly approved an alternative interpretation of the Book of Mormon by church apologists — a term used for scholars who defend the faith.
The apologists say Southerton and others are relying on a traditional reading of the Book of Mormon — that the Hebrews were the first and sole inhabitants of the New World and eventually populated the North and South American continents.
The latest scholarship, they argue, shows that the text should be interpreted differently. They say the events described in the Book of Mormon were confined to a small section of Central America, and that the Hebrew tribe was small enough that its DNA was swallowed up by the existing Native Americans.
“It would be a virtual certainly that their DNA would be swamped,” said Daniel Peterson, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, part of the worldwide Mormon educational system, and editor of a magazine devoted to Mormon apologetics. “And if that is the case, you couldn't tell who was a Lamanite descendant.”
Southerton said the new interpretation was counter to both a plain reading of the text and the words of Mormon leaders.
“The apologists feel that they are almost above the prophets,” Southerton said. “They have completely reinvented the narrative in a way that would be completely alien to members of the church and most of the prophets.”
The church has not formally endorsed the apologists' views, but the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — http://www.lds.org — cites their work and provides links to it.
“They haven't made any explicit public declarations,” said Armand L. Mauss, a church member and retired Washington State University professor who recently published a book on Mormon race and lineage. “But operationally, that is the current church's position.”
The DNA debate is largely limited to church leaders, academics and a relatively small circle of church critics. Most Mormons, taught that obedience is a key value, take the Book of Mormon as God's unerring word.
“It's not that Mormons are not curious,” Mauss said. “They just don't see the need to reconsider what has already been decided.”
Critics contend that Mormon leaders are quick to stifle dissent. In 2002, church officials began an excommunication proceeding against Thomas W. Murphy, an anthropology professor at Edmonds Community College in Washington state.
He was deemed a heretic for saying the Mormon scriptures should be considered inspired fiction in light of the DNA evidence.
After the controversy attracted national media coverage, with Murphy's supporters calling him the Galileo of Mormonism, church leaders halted the trial.
Loayza, the Salt Lake City attorney, said the church should embrace the controversy.
“They should openly address it,” he said. “Often, the tack they adopt is to just ignore or refrain from any opinion. We should have the courage of our convictions. This [Lamanite issue] is potentially destructive to the faith.”
Otterson, the church spokesman, said Mormon leaders would remain neutral. “Whether Book of Mormon geography is extensive or limited or how much today's Native Americans reflect the genetic makeup of the Book of Mormon peoples has absolutely no bearing on its central message as a testament of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Mauss said the DNA studies haven't shaken his faith. “There's not very much in life — not only in religion or any field of inquiry — where you can feel you have all the answers,” he said.
“I'm willing to live in ambiguity. I don't get that bothered by things I can't resolve in a week.”
For others, living with ambiguity has been more difficult. Phil Ormsby, a Polynesian who lives in Brisbane, Australia, grew up believing he was a Hebrew.
“I visualized myself among the fighting Lamanites and lived out the fantasies of the [Book of Mormon] as I read it,” Ormsby said. “It gave me great mana [prestige] to know that these were my true ancestors.”
The DNA studies have altered his feelings completely.
“Some days I am angry, and some days I feel pity,” he said. “I feel pity for my people who have become obsessed with something that is nothing but a hoax.” ❧
To see the actual LA Times article click here (last accessed July 10, 2014).
July 4, 2014
Thank you!— New Camcorder for the Ministry
Many thanks to our faitful supporters! Your gifts have allowed us to buy a camcorder for use in the ministry. As soon as we figure out how to work it, we'll post some videos to the website here. We plan to start with some video testimonies. Stay tuned!
July 3, 2014
New Letter — from a grateful inmate
Not many people know that we have a ministry to inmates in various prisons across the country. We correspond & frequently provide books & other literature free of charge. Below are encouraging excerpts from one inmate letter we received recently. Names, addresses & phone numbers have been removed.
Dear Mr. Trask,
Greetings, my brother in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our Rock and Redeemer. Peace be with you and may our Triune God bless you richly………
I hope and pray all is well with you. You and your ministry are constantly in my prayers. I am doing very will and about to be released from this prison and into society. I am maxing out my sentence on 11-9-13. Thank you for all your love and support for me and my Mormon/RLDS friends. Your ministry as well as others have equipped me to share the True Gospel to those who are in the snares of the teachings of Joseph Smith. Thank you especially for the package I received from you last night. You must have put a lot of time and effort in finding and providing me with the books and other materials that you sent to me. It was by the grace of God that I received the books because of the new policy set by the PA DOC, which states that inmates are not allowed to receive used books. The package would not have gotten to me if it weren’t for the person who searched the package for any contraband, who I found out is a Christian and also ex RLDS. She included a note with the package that said that she is risking her job by letting me have the books, but God spoke to her heart and told her to let me have the books for they are going to be used for His Glory. So getting the books was indeed a miracle. Praise the Lord!
Another thing that God is doing is leading Mormons/RLDS inmates to my cell block, which is a unit for inmates who have a lot of “Hole”, time due to misconducts. The program on my cell block is to help get people with at least 2 years Hole time earn their way back into the general population. The Mormon/RLDS brothers are acting up and receiving many misconduct reports because there is no Mormon/RLDS services in PA DOC available to them. So a lot of them attempt to start riots and then they are put in the “Hole” with years of disciplinary time, thus and are placed on my cell block, (SSNU). There are now about 12 Mormon/RLDS inmates on my cell block at this time. The materials you and other ministries have sent me have helped immensely in sharing Christ and His true Gospel with them. God has definitely worked every thing out for His good and His purpose. God has given me the gift of teaching them the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Praise God! I have lots of material to work with. God has called me to be a missionary to bring people out of the cults of Joseph Smith. On thing I have noticed is that the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants of the LDS is much different of those of RLDS. Why such a big difference? I just recently started reading “RLDS Church Is It Christian?” Great book!!! Your books “Part Way to Utah” and “The Long Way Home” were very helpful. One inmate that I have brought out of the RLDS church is presently reading “The Long Way Home”. He isn’t a Christian yet, but he is studying your book………
I love Jesus with my whole being without reserve and my greatest desire is to be a living sacrifice, holy, and pleasing to God. I want everything I do and say to never cease to glorify God, my Savior.
I thank God for your ministry – you are changing many lives. Keep up the good work, Brother Paul!!! I love you, my Brother in the Lord Jesus Christ!!! AMEN!!!
I am being released on November 9th of this year. I will be keeping in touch. God bless you!!!
Jesus in me loves you!!!
In Christ’s Love,
October 29, 2013
New Testimony — Carrie Crawford Blackman
Carrie was baptized into the RLDS church at 8 years old as a 4th generation Latter Day Saint. She married outside the RLDS church, and began attending a non-RLDS church with her husband. When they volunteered for service, however, the pastor hesitated because of Carrie’s staunchly held Latter Day Saint beliefs. While initially upset, Carrie and her husband began serious research into RLDS beliefs. The result was one she could not have foreseen.
I was raised in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) Church (4th generation on my Father’s side), and always considered myself a Christian. I learned to pray to my Heavenly Father in Jesus’ name, and was baptized into what I thought was the one true and accurate church at the age of 8 years old. While not Biblical, the RLDS faith teaches that 8 years old is the age of accountability—the youngest age at which one could understand the scriptures and be held accountable for his/her sins. I never fully understood why the crucifixion was necessary, but learned the 6 principles of the gospel to attain eternal reward: 1) Faith in God, 2) Repentance from sin, 3) Baptism by emersion, 4) Laying on of Hands to receive the Holy Spirit, 5) Resurrection from the Dead, and 6) Eternal Life. According to the Book of Mormon, I was saved “after all I could do (2 Nephi, 11:44),” and learned from the Doctrine & Covenants that salvation was a covenant: “When you do what I say I am bound, when you do not what I say you have no promise (D&C 81:3b).” Such statements placed a heavy responsibility still on my own shoulders. It was not until my faith was challenged that I came to a true understanding of how Biblical salvation actually occurs.
About 6 months after our oldest son was born, my husband and I decided to find a church closer to home that taught the Bible in a way we both felt was true to Christ’s teachings. While I agreed to visit and even join a non-RLDS church on paper, I still held to what I felt was true in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Inspired Version of the Bible. I refused to take communion at the churches we visited even after joining Fellowship of Grace Church, because I saw 1) the covenant I made with Christ different than those around me and 2) those serving the communion as not having true authority from God.
After attending Fellowship of Grace for a couple years, my husband and I felt led to volunteer to serve in a leadership role. But my Pastor was hesitant, since my RLDS faith conflicted with the church’s core beliefs. I first felt under attack and started researching to defend my faith. My husband began researching with me, since he had never fully accepted the RLDS teachings and wanted to be supportive in my journey toward truth and Biblical salvation. When discovering Utah Mormon doctrine, I immediately separated myself, since I never considered myself a “Mormon.” It was only when I came across websites and research written by former RLDS members that I started to listen and do my own exploration: www.help4rlds.com and www.lifeline2rlds.org.
As I first mentioned, I always considered myself a “Christian,” and tried to follow Biblical principles, and turned to Christ for help, guidance, and peace. While I know that many times my prayers were answered, it was not until I discovered how the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Inspired Version of the Bible included false teachings that my relationship with Christ began to grow and deepen like never before. The false teachings of Joseph Smith distort the road to salvation—which is the most dangerous aspect of his false teaching. Yet, the true Biblical view of salvation is found in Romans 10:9–10, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Paul makes it clear that salvation has nothing at all to do with what I can DO—even baptism is an act of obedience, not an essential element of salvation. If I could do anything to earn or even lose salvation, Christ died in vain.
Once I came to an understanding of true Biblical salvation, and learned, as evidenced through the Dead Sea Scrolls, that the Bible had not been corrupted over the ages and did not need restoring, I could seek a version of the Bible to study. I went to a local bookstore and compared several versions, and settled on the NASB study bible. Knowing it was a word-for-word translation calmed my fears about why there were so many versions. As I studied, I learned that what I once thought was agreement between the three books of RLDS scripture was actually no more than sloppy plagiarism! By “restoring” offices and laws rooted in the Old Testament, Joseph Smith brought his people back to the days of the Pharisees—again, discounting everything fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
I also learned the Book of Mormon was not translated with the Urim and Thummim, but actually by a Seer Stone. Even more amazing was to learn that this truth had been recorded by Joseph’s wife Emma to her son (Joseph Smith III) and can be found today in RLDS Church History, volume 3, pages 356–357. Even Joseph Smith’s founding testimony in the grove was recorded several different ways, and have confused many of his followers regarding the doctrine of the trinity.
Many RLDS and LDS claim the Book of Mormon to be a second testament of Jesus Christ, yet, the Jesus of the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi, 4) revealed Himself in a manner uncharacteristic of the Biblical Jesus. There Jesus destroyed entire civilizations for their wickedness before giving them any opportunity to learn of His saving grace.
After praying for forgiveness and accepting the gift of salvation which I could never earn, I felt free and complete. I was now able to serve and love in oneness with my husband, and teach our children with consistency and truth. When I chose to be re-baptized (as an act of obedience and symbol of new life), I came up from the water with a peace like nothing I have ever experienced. I knew God had led me to this place and time, and would forever change my family tree toward Him.
October 28, 2013
New Article — "The Paradigm Shift Dilemma"
I discovered this article in the Liberty Crier, to which I am a subscriber (http://libertycrier.com). Its thrust is political & economic. But the principles discussed are universal. Nelson Hultberg puts his finger squarely on a cluster of human dynamics which are all intertwined — egotism, integrity, honesty and the ability to change one’s mind about important matters. This kind of change is popularly referred to as a Paradigm Shift, as Mr. Hultberg will explain.
Indeed, I have observed this cluster of dynamics in play in virtually every facet of human endeavor. But I have been particularly attentive to it in spiritual matters. And that’s the reason I am providing a copy of this article. All too often, people cease being “seekers of truth,” but rather “seekers of support for their previous convictions.” We occasionally make fun of this dynamic with the familiar line, “I’ve already made my mind up – don’t confuse me with the facts!”
At a certain point in life many people seem to develop mental and spiritual “rigor mortise” as it were. They lose the ability to think clearly and accurately about significant issues – even in the face of important new information. They instead spend their energy defending or justifying their thoughts or actions of an earlier day and time.
Now that you’ve read this short introduction, perhaps you, too, will be attentive to this inclination in yourself and others.
I hope you find this article informative and thought provoking. Perhaps it will even lead to a Paradigm Shift!
October 2, 2013
Errata Available for Paul Trask's book Part Way to Utah
The 2nd Edition of Part Way to Utah: the Forgotten Mormons (2005) was edited with different software from that of the 1st Edition (1997). During this process, some very important formatting was lost in the columnar presentations on three pages: 90, 94 and 100.
In each of these presentations, the use of
strikeoutand italics are used to facilitate comparisons between original documents and subsequent variants. Strikeoutis used to indicate words omitted in subsequent versions and italics is used to indicate words which were added.
Significant italicization was lost on each of the three pages identified above. This is a very important part of the presentation. Accordingly, these pages have been corrected, and are included in the Errata below.
If you have a 2nd Edition, we encourage you to print out this pdf file and stick it in your copy to facilitate your review of these pages.
September 10, 2013
New article — "Is the Book Of Mormon Inspired by God? Was Joseph Smith a Prophet of God?"
A friend of mine forwarded the following article for me to look at and consider posting. It is quite good, and so I'm making it available here.
It is written to Utah Mormons (with related references), but the author's approach is applicable to all Latter Day Saints. He makes observations and asks questions which beg an answer.
The article is written by John R. Gentry, and comes from the website BibleStudyGuide.org. The article can be directly accessed at Is the Book Of Mormon Inspired by God? Was Joseph Smith a Prophet of God?
I requested and was granted permission to make this article available here in pdf format.
August 5, 2013
A new letter from Judy Meikle:
I have had questions many years ago and followed my son to a Baptist Church.
At first I was angry because I felt like I was lied to all my life.
I have learned so much since accepting salvation.
A friend shared this web site.
Thanks for helping.
May 27, 2013
A new book is available from our ministry! We've added Reasons for Disbelief, by Peter Elliott of Western Australia.
Peter Elliott grew up in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and spent most of his early twenties travelling the world (living off tinned fish and yoghurt), gold prospecting, and escaping from government jobs. Since then he has earned a bachelors degree in English Literature from the West Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) and a Bachelor of Divinity and a Masters in Theology both from Murdoch University. Most recently Peter has submitted a doctoral thesis entitled Edward Irving: Romantic theology in crisis at Murdoch University. Peter lectures in Church History in several colleges and lives near Fremantle, Western Australia with his wife Deborah and their two sons, Joel and Jason.
It takes courage and honesty to critically examine the faith you were brought up with—without rejecting God altogether. Reasons for Disbelief chronicles just such an examination. Peter Elliott’s family had been members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS – now called Community of Christ) for five generations. In his early twenties, however, Peter began honestly exploring his family’s faith for himself. This book is the result of that investigation. Originally self-published in 1980, it documents both how the traditional RLDS beliefs were historically untenable, and also how the later RLDS leadership tried to distance itself from these beliefs without openly denying them. This expanded edition contains a new preface and postscript, and includes previously unpublished correspondence with RLDS church leadership.
This is a great book, and covers so many of the problems with Latter Day Saintism. A special feature of this book is that it contains personal correspondence with top RLDS leaders wherein they disclose a secret strategy — a "long range, systematic" plan to alter the membership's understanding of the church's founding history!
Find this on our Books & DVDs page for $7.00 plus $1.65 shipping.
April 9, 2013
Our new, completely redesigned website debuted on Thursday, March 28, and the response has been fantastic. Our traffic has been far stronger than normal as people explore our new format and the information we are providing.
If you’re new to our ministry, Welcome! Please feel free to share any comments or questions with us using our Contact page. May the Lord bless your time here, and steer you to useful information which will bring you into closer relationship with Himself.
Our many thanks to Craig Shatswell, who had been our webmaster for the past 5 years, and had helped redesign the site in 2008. And thanks also to Rob Tapley who provided guidance for our most recent redesign, and continues to offer technical assistance.
March 12, 2013
We're in the midst of a complete redesgin of this website. It will have a fresh new look, and have some new content as well. And it will provide the structure for expanded content in the future. Stay tuned!
January 7, 2013
New Class! Paul Trask will be teaching a 12 week class on Latter Day Saintism beginning 9:00 am, Sunday, March 3, 2013 at New Life Church in Oak Grove, Missouri. The church is located at 801 SW 1st St., Oak Grove, MO 64075.
Here is a map to help you find the church
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